5 Strategies for Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Mar 20, 2024

5 Strategies for Colorectal Cancer Prevention

When you can take steps to prevent something as serious as cancer, these are steps well worth taking. Here, we review five great practices for colorectal cancer prevention in honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Nearly half of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States involve breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers — and there are nearly two million new cancer diagnoses each year. More seriously, half of cancer deaths are attributed to breast, lung, pancreas, and colorectal cancers.

Imagine if you could take steps to take at least one of these cancer sites out of the equation. 

Because March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the team of highly skilled colorectal surgical experts here at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery wants to dive into some sound prevention strategies for these types of cancer.

Here are five great steps you can take to lower your risks for colorectal cancer, which is diagnosed in more than 150,000 Americans each year. These cancers include colon cancer and rectal cancer.

1. Get screened with a colonoscopy

Far and away, the most important step you can take is to see us for a preventive screening. A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows us to spot potential problems in your lower digestive tract and take preventive action.

We recommend that you get your first colonoscopy at the age of 45 if you’re at average risk. For a more complete look at colorectal screening recommendations, we invite you to grab a look at this previous blog post that covers this topic in more detail.

2. Diet matters

Because colorectal cancers involve your lower digestive tract, it makes sense that diet can play a role. If you eat a lot of fatty foods and red or processed meats, we urge you to nudge your eating habits in a healthier direction because these foods can increase your risks for colorectal cancer. 

Diets that include ample fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (no white pastas and breads!), on the other hand, are shown to decrease your risks for colorectal cancer.

3. Quit smoking

There’s a long list of reasons why you should quit smoking, and cancer holds a top position. While lung cancer may be more directly related to tobacco use, it might surprise you to know that it’s also linked to an increased risk of many other cancers, including colorectal cancer.

4. Curb the alcohol

Another vice that’s connected to cancer is alcohol use, which is linked to 6% of all cancers and 4% of cancer deaths. On the list of cancers is, you guessed it, colon and rectal cancer.

5. Lose weight

America has a weight problem, and it’s taking a toll on our collective health. About 1 in 3 Americans is overweight, and 2 in 5 have obesity. These excess pounds can greatly increase your risks for certain cancers, including colorectal cancer. Not only is your risk for a diagnosis higher but when you’re carrying extra weight, your risk of dying of cancer is also elevated.

Between the screening and the lifestyle adjustments we outline above, you can stay one step ahead of colorectal cancer. Not to mention, the items on our list will reduce your risks for colorectal cancer and improve your overall health in every way.

If you’d like to learn more about your own risks for colorectal cancer and how we can work toward reducing them, please contact one of our offices in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge, or Lansdowne, Virginia, to schedule a consultation.